|The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine|
No. 125, 03 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR CIS DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET. Defense ministers from the CIS states were scheduled to meet in Moscow on 3 July to prepare for the 6 July meeting of CIS heads of state, Interfax reported. Participants were to discuss a broad range of military issues, including the basics of CIS military doctrine and nuclear strategy. One of the more contentious issues to be discussed involves the status of CIS strategic nuclear forces located in Ukraine. Meanwhile, CIS military spokesman Lt. Gen. Leonid Ivashov told ITAR-TASS on 2 July that six draft military documents will be included on the 6 July agenda, including agreements on ballistic missile early warning systems and monitoring of space, on air defense, and on the status of CIS strategic forces. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINE: RATIFIES CFE; ON ARMY. Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Tarassuk announced on 2 July that Ukraine's parliament had ratified the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, AFP reported. According to a Radio Moscow report on the same day, Tarassuk also said that Ukraine would continue to maintain the second largest army in Europe, even after putting into effect the CFE-mandated reductions. His statement suggests that Ukraine intends to maintain armed forces of at least 400,000 men, which appears to be a reversal of earlier policy statements saying that Ukraine would cut its forces to the 200,000-250,000 range. Tarassuk's statement remains unconfirmed. (Stephen Foye) COUNCIL OF RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY MEETS. The protection of the rights of the Russians living in neighboring states remains a priority of Russian foreign policy, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said. At the first meeting of the newly created Council of Russian Foreign Policy, which consists of various deputies, journalists, scientists and businessmen, the former Soviet dissident Sergei Kovalev praised the Russian Foreign Ministry's policy of protecting Russian minorities not by force but by appeals to international legislatures, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 July. Kozyrev stated that for the first time in Russian history, the country does not face a potential enemy. The council proposed the creation of a ministry for CIS affairs. (Alexander Rahr) MORE WARNINGS OF GROWING ANTI-GOVERNMENT FORCES IN RUSSIA. During the council meeting on 2 July, Andrei Kozyrev, as well as top Americanist Georgii Arbatov, and former Yeltsin adviser Sergei Shakhrai, warned of a growing anti-government alliance, Interfax and the New York Times reported on 3 July. They called attention to what they believe is a threatening "Red-Brown" alliance of left- and right-wing extremists. "It's extremely dangerous," Arbatov said, noting in particular the disaffection of the army and the military-industrial complex, both of which are threatened by ongoing economic and social reforms. Arbatov criticized, among other things, the government's lack of attention to defense industry conversion. (Brenda Horrigan) 14TH ARMY COMMANDER ON "SHIFT IN RUSSIAN POLICY." At his inaugural news conference in Tiraspol, the new commander of Russia's 14th Army stationed in Moldova, Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, termed the right-bank city of Bendery as "an inalienable part of the Dniester republic" and "the Dniester republic itself a small part of Russia," Moskovskie Novosti reported on 1 July. The General also termed the CIS "an assemblage of abnormal states." Lebed added that his appointment in Moldova, as well as that of General Boris Gromov to the position of Russian deputy defense minister, "is connected to a massive shift in the policy of the Russian government." Moskovskie Novosti commented that the Dniester area could be "an ideal testing ground for the new policy." (Vladimir Socor) MOLDOVA ALARMED. The Moldovan government is alarmed by the spate of allegations, which it terms fabricated, on CIS and Russian television, according to which Moldovan forces are attacking Russian military units on the Dniester. Those allegations are linked to the order issued on 1 July by Russia's acting Prime Minister Egor Gaidar, as reported by Russian TV that day, authorizing Russian forces to open fire in response to attacks. Chisinau is concerned that a pretext for opening fire against Moldovan forces is being sought. (Vladimir Socor) UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT FACES CONFIDENCE VOTE. The Ukrainian parliament on 2 July voted overwhelmingly to consider the question of confidence in the cabinet of ministers headed by Vitold Fokin on the parliamentary agenda, Radio Ukraine reported. The issue will be considered during the 3 July session. The lawmakers took the step after the government announced that it would free food prices. Demands for the cabinet's resignation have been made by various political parties and groups in recent weeks. (Roman Solchanyk) COMMUNISTS IN THE CRIMEA. Molod Ukrainy of 26 June reported that the former first secretary of the Crimean Communist Party organization, Leonid Hrach, recently reemerged as head of the newly-formed "Union of Communists of Crimea." In addition, the peninsula is home to the "Socialist Party of Toilers of Crimea" and the Sevastopol-based "All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks." (Roman Solchanyk) RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT DELAYS TAX CUT VOTE. On 2 July, the Russian parliament gave preliminary approval to a bill that would reduce the rates of value-added and personal income taxes, ITAR-TASS reported. The size of the proposed reductions was not specified, and a final vote was postponed to enable the government and the parliament to resolve their differences. During the debate, which was enlivened by heated exchanges between Gaidar and Khasbulatov, it was proposed that VAT be cut from 28% to 14%, and that the highest personal income tax rate be reduced from 60% to 30-40%. Gaidar's presentation of the second-stage economic reform program was rescheduled for 3 July. (Keith Bush) YELTSIN AND RUTSKOI GET PAY RAISES. The Russian parliament voted on 2 July to increase the salaries of President Yeltsin and Vice-president Rutskoi, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin's pay rises from about 4,000 rubles to 18,900 rubles per month, while Rutskoi's salary was increased to 15,300 rubles per month. At current rates of exchange, these work out at around $140 and $113 a month respectively. The presidential salary is set at a multiple of 21 times the minimum salary, which is currently 900 rubles per month. (Keith Bush) NUCLEAR WEAPONS WORKERS WARN OF INDUSTRY'S COLLAPSE. A letter from nuclear weapons' industry employees warns President Yeltsin of a crisis situation in this sector of the defense industry, according to a 25 June Pravda report. The letter marks the beginning of a "qualitatively new phase" in the collapse of the Russian economy. It protests the low sectoral pay scale and recent non-payment of wages, and claims that the situation is driving these workers to sell their skills elsewhere. Pravda noted that the industry also is plagued by rising unemployment and a lack of incoming young cadres. Recalling Yeltsin's failure to fulfill promises made to workers earlier this year during a visit to the Arzamas-16 factory, Pravda noted that, "When the trolleybus drivers are on strike, it is bad; when it's the medics, it's even worse. But it is difficult to imagine what would happen if the nuclear weapons workers go on strike." (Brenda Horrigan) AFRICAN COUNTRIES SEEK FSU DEBT RELIEF. A resolution was passed at the 28th summit of the "Organization of African Unity" in Dakar seeking relief for OAU members from repaying debts owed to the former Soviet Union, Western agencies reported on 2 July. The resolution called for cancellation of military debts and rescheduling of civil debts. Russian sources are quoted as putting the total debts of OAU members to the FSU at about 14 billion convertible rubles. This compares with total debts owed to the FSU by third-world and former socialist countries estimated at 86 billion convertible rubles at the end of 1989 (see Izvestiya, 2 March 1990). Little if any of this debt is likely to be repaid. (Keith Bush) RUSSIAN WAGES COMPARED. Pravda on 30 June published data on wage levels. The highest paid in Russia today are said to be presidents of stock or commodity exchanges (earning up to 80,000 rubles per month), followed by private businessmen (up to 55,000 rubles) and street traders (up to 15,000 rubles). [Pravda provocatively interjects that a beggar can collect anywhere between 9,000 and 15,000 rubles month.] By contrast, an army general earns a maximum of only 10,000 rubles and the director of a state enterprise, 6,500 rubles. A construction worker can earn up to 3,500 rubles. The lowest pay goes to kindergarten teachers (maximum 1,500 rubles) and manual workers (1,300 rubles). (Elizabeth Teague) RUBLE STRENGTHENS AT CURRENCY AUCTION. At the first Moscow currency auction since the exchange rate was unified and allowed to float--albeit dirtily--the ruble strengthened from about 145 rubles to 134.8 rubles to the dollar, Western agencies reported on 2 July. As in the case of exchange rate movements in other currencies, pundits had been unable to forecast the change but were quick to explain it after the event. Favored explanations were that the ruble had been undervalued going into the float because of panic selling, and that commercial banks had been holding a lot of hard currency and wanted to unload it. (Keith Bush) KAZAKHSTAN BANS GRAIN EXPORTS. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has signed a decree prohibiting the sale of grain to other countries "until special instructions are issued by the Council of Ministers," Interfax reported on 2 July. A special commission has been established to monitor local compliance with the decree and to check on harvest efficiency. The Kazakh government is charged with "fixing a maximum (sic) purchase price for grain, with world market prices in mind," so that Kazakh wheat growers are encouraged to sell their grain for domestic consumption. (Keith Bush) SIBERIAN COSSACKS TO DEFEND COSSACKS IN KAZAKHSTAN. A meeting of the "Large Cossack Circle of Siberia and the former Steppe Krai" (northern Kazakhstan) in Omsk on 1 July condemned the violation of the rights of Russians in Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported. The circle appealed to the Russian and Kazakh parliaments and presidents to protect the rights of the Russian population, adopt a law on dual citizenship, put a stop to the renaming of Russian settlements and the destruction of Russian monuments. If no action was taken, the question of a referendum on autonomy would be raised and the circle reserved the right to defend its brothers by all available means. (Ann Sheehy) UZBEK SECURITY FORCES PREVENT DEMONSTRATION. On 2 July, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tashkent that police and military troops surrounded the central area of Tashkent, where a demonstration organized by the democratic opposition groups "Birlik" and "Erk" had been planned. The protest was intended to mark the opening of the Supreme Soviet session, and to call for new elections to be held under a more democratic election law. Troops blockaded the main streets of Tashkent with busses and closed many metro stations. The headquarters of Erk was surrounded, and 16 of its members arrested. The headquarters of Birlik, which the government refuses to register as a political party, had already been closed in May. A demonstration was also reportedly forcibly dispersed in Samarkand. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) "ERK" DEPUTY RESIGNS. Supreme Soviet deputy, chairman of the "Erk" party and writer Mohammed Solih resigned from his seat at the opening session, after he was prevented from giving a speech on the political situation in the republic, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 2 July. He said he could no longer participate in the "anti-democratic, communist" parliament. Meanwhile, "Birlik" Chairman Abdurakhim Pulatov remains in critical condition in a Tashkent hospital, where he was taken on 30 June after government-sponsored attackers fractured his skull. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) TAJIK BORDER VIOLATORS CAPTURED. While attempting to halt a group of armed Tajiks returning across the border from Afghanistan, one border guard was killed by automatic weapons fire, a correspondent from the Khovar news agency reported on 1 July. One of the violators was also killed, and four were captured. The group had been transporting weaponry into Tajikistan, including two grenade launchers, 11 pistols, 19 grenades and two radio transmitters. The border guards have accused residents of the border regions of Tajikistan of obstructing their attempts to stop such weapons trade. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) MORE ON RUSSIAN MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN MOLDOVA FIGHTING. Nezavisimaya Gazeta of 1 July cited "a Russian state counselor," who monitored the recent fighting in and around Bendery, as confirming that officers and tanks of Russia's 14th conducted the attack which drove the Moldovans out of Bendery and secured the city for the "Dniester guard." (Vladimir Socor) RUTSKOI CONSIDERED LANDING TROOPS IN MOLDOVA. The same Russian state counselor recounted that Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi, in charge during Yeltsin's North American visit, seriously considered landing Russian paratroops in Moldova during the fighting in Bendery. Rutskoi and the "situation staff" he assembled in the Kremlin considered sending either the Tula or the Pskov paratroop division by air, or the Bolgrad division by land. The main consideration preventing the measure was the need to obtain Ukraine's consent for transiting the troops. (Vladimir Socor) ZHIRINOVSKY'S MEN FIGHTING IN MOLDOVA. Russian ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky's press office told Interfax on 28 June that "many Zhirinovsky supporters are fighting on the side of the Dniester [republic]" and that a further group of 25 volunteers from the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk is about to join the fighting. (Vladimir Socor) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE U.N. FORCES SECURE SARAJEVO AIRPORT. A Canadian infantry battalion reached Sarajevo airport on 2 July after forcing its way through a Serbian roadblock 75 miles northwest of Sarajevo. No shots were exchanged, although the Canadians, members of the U.N. peacekeeping force, had to assume combat positions as they made their way through the roadblock. Forty U.N. armored vehicles were deployed around Sarajevo airport on Thursday, and an American and a French cargo plane carrying relief supplies arrived with food and medicine. A force of 1,500 Ukrainian, French and Egyptian troops are to replace the Canadians within days. (Gordon Bardos). OTHER YUGOSLAV NEWS. Milan Panic, a 62-year-old Serbian-born American citizen, announced on 2 July that he is returning to Yugoslavia to assume the position of prime minister. Panic, who is the founder and chairman of I.C.N. Pharmaceuticals, an international drug manufacturer, had to receive special permission from the US administration to accept the post. In Belgrade, meanwhile, the demonstrations against Milosevic continued, and participation was reported to be largest since their beginning, five days ago. Also on 2 July, Milan Babic, a leader of the Serbs fighting in Croatia, was wounded in an assassination attempt in Knin. Babic's aides suggested Milosevic was behind the attempt. (Gordon Bardos and Michael Shafir). HUNGARY CONTINUES TO ACCEPT YUGOSLAV REFUGEES. Denes Tomaj, deputy secretary of state at the Hungarian foreign ministry, reiterated on 2 July that Hungary will continue to accept refugees from former Yugoslavia, Western agencies and MTI report. Tomaj added that Hungary will not follow Austria's example in introducing visa requirements for holders of Yugoslav passports. Hungarian border guards spokesman Janos Zubek said that at least 1,300 refugees trying to cross into Austria from Hungary were refused entry on 2 July when the Austrian restriction came into effect. He estimated that 20,000 Bosnians want to travel through Hungary to destinations in Western Europe, and warned that Hungary cannot accommodate them all. Jozsef Wessetzky, deputy head of the Hungarian refugee office, said that new camps will be opened near the Yugoslav border and will accommodate some 5,000 refugees. (Edith Oltay) REFUGEES IN HUNGARY. Hungarian minister of the interior Peter Boross told the parliament of the Council of Europe in Budapest that there were currently some 100,000 refugees in Hungary, MTI reported on 1 July. He estimated the number of ethnic Hungarians immigrants from neighboring countries at some 72,000 to 74,000. Boross put the number of war refugees from the territory of former Yugoslavia at some 40,000 to 50,000. He reported that the number of refugees from Bosnia is increasing. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIA PROTESTS STATEMENTS BY 14th ARMY CHIEF. On 1 July Romania's foreign minister Adrian Nastase sent a formal letter of protest to his Russian counterpart, Andrei Kozyrev, over the status of Russia's 14th army stationed in Moldova, Western agencies report. The letter criticizes what is described as the "warlike" statements made by the army's commander, major general Aleksandr Lebed. On 29 June Lebed said in Tiraspol that Romania should not be allowed to participate in peace talks concerning the future of Moldova's Dniester region. A spokesman for Romania's foreign ministry said such statements contradict decisions taken by the foreign ministers of Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania in Istanbul on 25 June. (Dan Ionescu) NO PROGRESS IN POLISH GOVERNMENT TALKS. Refusing to accede to Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak's request for dismissal, President Lech Walesa attempted on 2 July to revive talks on the formation of a government coalition. Despite a new statement of willingness to enter the cabinet from the "little coalition," the presidential push appears to have failed. Evening talks were broken off at Pawlak's initiative. Insisting their stance had been flexible, "little coalition" leaders said they had offered new ministerial candidates to replace figures rejected by Pawlak as too controversial. Meanwhile, the five-party Christian-democratic and peasant alliance called the prolonging of Pawlak's mission "irresponsible" and appealed once again for a majority coalition based on Solidarity forces. (Louisa Vinton) FEDERAL AND CZECH GOVERNMENTS SWORN IN. President Vaclav Havel swore in Czechoslovakia's new federal government on 2 July, CSTK reported. The country's new prime minister, Jan Strasky, said he will keep the country on the path of reform to prevent the Czechoslovak federation from collapsing before its time. He also said that the government's program would set agenda only for the next three months; the Czech and Slovak republican parliaments are to decide the fate of the common state by 30 September. The new Czech government, headed by Vaclav Klaus, was sworn in on 2 July. Klaus vowed to continue with radical political and economic changes. He also said that his government wanted to build "firm foundations of the Czech statehood." (Jiri Pehe) HAVEL COMMENTS ON POSSIBLE BREAKUP OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA. In an interview with the French daily Le Monde published on 2 July, Czechoslovak President Vaclav Havel said that if his country breaks apart, the process of disintegration will not be marked by the violence that now occurs in the former Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union. Havel argued that what is going on in the former Soviet Union and in the Balkans is a tragedy, while developments in Czechoslovakia are "more like the theater of the absurd, boulevard comedy or even farce." He also said he might stand for president of the Czech Republic if Czechoslovakia breaks apart. Havel is standing for reelection as President of Czechoslovakia today. (Jiri Pehe). POSSIBLE PROGRESS ON TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM LATVIA. The third meeting of Latvian and Russian experts dealing with ex-USSR troops withdrawal ended in Jurmala on 2 July on a rather optimistic note, Radio Riga reported. To start the process, Russian experts said that Moscow would pull out about 16,000 troops and vacate some 81 military objects in Latvia. No agreement was reached on the more thorny issues, such as the date for completing the withdrawal process, ownership of property occupied by the ex-USSR military, and compensation for damage done by the military. The Russian side insisted that it was in Russia's strategic interests to hold on to the radar station in Skrunda, the military harbor in Liepaja, and the cosmic communications facility in Ventspils. (Dzintra Bungs) LITHUANIA PRESENTS PLAN FOR TROOPS WITHDRAWAL. At a press conference on 2 July the head of the Lithuanian delegation for negotiations with Russia, deputy parliament chairman Ceslovas Stankevicius revealed that on 30 June he had sent his Russian counterpart Viktor Isakov a letter with a detailed plan for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Lithuania in four months, Radio Lithuania reports. There was no response to the letter's suggestion that the next meeting of experts dealing with the withdrawal should be held in Vilnius on 2-3 July. (Saulius Girnius) DETAILS OF PLAN. At the same press conference National Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius refuted Russian claims that the withdrawal was impossible due to lack of housing for officers and overcrowding of railroad transport. 7,500 of the 10,500 officers have apartments in Lithuania whose sales would provide funds for purchasing new housing elsewhere. Lithuanian railroad officials calculate that Russia would require 224 trains with 10,000 railway cars to withdraw all its troops and their equipment. The average of 55 trains per month would be slower than the pace of the withdrawal from Hungary (80 trains per month) and there would not be any overcrowding due to the 30% decrease this year in Lithuanian railroad traffic. (Saulius Girnius) NEW ESTONIAN CONSTITUTION TAKES EFFECT. On 2 July, the Estonian Referendum Committee released the official results of last Sunday's constitutional referendum. Sixty-seven % of all eligible voters had voted. Of those, 91% voted for adopting the new constitution. The second question, on widening the franchise was supported by only 46%, and was therefore rejected by the electorate. BNS reported the official results. (Riina Kionka) RUSSIA PROTESTS TO ESTONIA. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 1 July protested against the "deprivation of political and representation rights" of ethnic Russians in Estonia. ITAR-TASS quoted a Russian Foreign Ministry statement as saying that both the outcome of Estonia's constitutional referendum and the "provocative attitude" of Estonian authorities on the withdrawal of former Soviet troops complicates bilateral relations in a "particularly serious way." (Riina Kionka) TALLINN TO GARRISON THE TROOPS? The Tallinn City Council voted on 2 July to restrict the movement of Russian troops and equipment within the city limits. According to BNS, the city hopes to enforce the restriction with the help of the police and Estonia's two home guard groups. (Riina Kionka) MOLDOVAN MEDIEVAL RULER CANONIZED. On 2 July more than 15,000 persons attended a ceremony at Putna monastery for the canonization of Stephan the Great, Moldova's ruler between 1457 and 1504, known for having defended his country against the Turks. According to Radio Bucharest, thousands of ethnic Romanians from Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova crossed into Romania to celebrate the event. The ceremony, which was led by Patriarch Teoctist of the Romanian Orthodox Church, was attended by president Ion Iliescu, foreign minister Adrian Nastase, and defense minister Nicolae Spiroiu. The canonization comes against a background of clashes in the Dniester region, and is perceived as largely a political gesture. (Dan Ionescu) NO SOLUTION TO BULGARIAN CHURCH CONFLICT. Contrary to expectations, the long awaited ruling of Supreme Court failed to clarify which is the legitimate leadership of Bulgaria's Orthodox Church. On 2 July the Supreme Court stated that the complaint filed by the original Holy Synod--led by communistappointed Patriarch Maksim--against the alternative Synod supported by the Directorate of Religious Affairs, had been submitted too late and could therefore not be considered. In interviews broadcast on Bulgarian radio, both sides claimed that the ruling supported their view. Observers said the conflict can only be solved by holding nation-wide elections of church representatives. (Kjell Engelbrekt) BULGARIAN AND TURKEY TO WITHDRAW TROOPS. On 2 July, during a visit to Ankara by Bulgaria's Chief of General Staff, lieutenant general Lyuben Petrov, Turkish officials announced that a significant number of troops would be pulled back from the Turkish-Bulgarian border. According to Western agencies, Turkey is willing to withdraw both an infantry battalion stationed in Edirne and a tank battalion in Kirklareli. Petrov was quoted as saying that Bulgaria was ready to reciprocate. (Kjell Engelbrekt) POLISH ECONOMIC REFORM: TWO VIEWS. In a report on the Polish economy issued on 3 July, the OECD lamented that political difficulties threatened to slow the pace of economic reform. OECD assistant secretary-general Salvatore Zecchini spoke of a "vacuum in political decision making," Western agencies reported. Conceding that some impetus had been lost, deputy economic cooperation minister Andrzej Byrt responded that IMF guidelines would likely be accepted by any new government and noted that Poland was the first former communist country in which the private sector employed more than 50% of the working public. Byrt added that private industry now accounted for 30% of the GNP (excluding agriculture). (Louisa Vinton) CONSUMER PRICES SOAR IN ROMANIA. On 2 July the daily Cotidianul published figures showing that consumer prices in Romania have doubled on average every six months since October 1990. Cotidianul said that the average inflation rate was almost 12% a month and increases in the cost of food were even higher. According to the daily, inflation has considerably reduced the Romanians' interest in keeping money in saving accounts. (Dan Ionescu) SWEDEN TO COMPENSATE ESTONIA, LITHUANIA FOR GOLD. Sweden has decided to compensate Estonia and Lithuania for gold transferred by the Swedish government to the USSR in 1940, after the occupation of the Baltic States. The gold, now worth some 46.6 million dollars, had been deposited in Sweden before World War II by Estonia and Lithuania. A Swedish government statement of 1 July said that the two countries can decide if they want repayment in gold or in cash and indicated that Sweden would like to complete the transactions as soon as possible. Estonian and Lithuanian officials indicated that they would opt for having the gold back, Western agencies reported on 1 July. (Dzintra Bungs) POLAND, ESTONIA SIGN FRIENDSHIP TREATY. Polish Foreign Minister Krzysztof Skubiszewski and his Estonian counterpart Jaan Manitski signed a treaty on cooperation and good-neighborly relations in Tallinn on 2 July, Polish television reported. Manicki commented that Estonia's path to Europe leads through Poland. (Louisa Vinton) [As of 1200 CET]
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